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Second Chance Act: What is it and How Does it Help Me?

The Second Chance Act makes it possible to expunge misdemeanor convictions from your record, as well as felony convictions for which you have obtained a governor’s pardon.

Being incarcerated is a traumatic experience, and being on probation is no fun, either. The punishment does not end after you finish your sentence, though. You can enjoy home cooking and your favorite restaurants after getting out of jail, and you are free to go on road trips to another state after your probation ends, but the punishment is far from over. The criminal charges come back to haunt you every time a prospective employer or apartment leasing office does a background check. In fact, arrest records on a background check can count against you even if the arrest did not result in a conviction. In other words, a prospective employer can consider you guilty even if a jury found you innocent. The only solution to this problem is to get the records expunged, which is no simple task, even though a new law has expanded access to the restriction and sealing of criminal records. An Atlanta expungement lawyer can help you exercise your rights under the new law.

What is Restriction and Sealing of Records?

Background checks show all of a person’s arrest records, regardless of whether the charges were dropped or whether the defendant was acquitted or convicted. Georgia uses the term “restriction and sealing” for the legal process known as “expungement” in most other states. When a criminal record is restricted and sealed, it is no longer visible on the background checks routinely conducted in connection with applications for employment and housing. Even an expunged record is still visible to prosecutors and law enforcement; they need this information in order to apply laws related to first offenses and repeat offenses. Until the Second Chance Act went into effect, it was very difficult to get records restricted and sealed in Georgia; it was almost impossible to expunge records of convictions that occurred when the defendant was 21 years old or older.

Provisions of the Second Chance Act

The Second Chance Act became law on January 1, 2021. Under the new law, most misdemeanor convictions will be eligible for expungement if four years have passed since you complete your sentence and if you have not had any new convictions during that time. The only misdemeanor convictions that will not be eligible for expungement are sex crimes and family violence offenses. Nonviolent and non-sexual felony offenses will also be eligible if you have obtained a governor’s pardon, as long as five years have passed, with no new criminal convictions, since you completed your sentence.

Contact Atlanta Criminal Defense Lawyers About Restriction and Sealing of Criminal Records

Your Atlanta criminal defense lawyer is dedicated to the pursuit of justice by helping people who have previously been convicted of misdemeanor charges get those records expunged. Contact the defense lawyers at Ghanayem & Rayasam in Atlanta, Georgia about your case.